Power

[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIUDGweHUNQ&w=854&h=480]

In popular fitness nomenclature Power is often defined as the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

At ATOMIC we define Power as the ability to produce an effect. We then break down and define all the words in this definition. First we have Ability, the state of being able, means having competence, skill, natural aptitude or acquired proficiency.  Next To Produce means to make, create or cause something to happen or come into existenceAn Effect consists of any change resulting from a cause. Therefore we can define Power as having the competence, skill, natural aptitude or acquired proficiency required to make, create or cause a change or result.

Power is the ability to make something happen fast. This can be an inborn trait or a skill you learn over time. In weight training the faster we can get a weight off of the ground and over our head the more powerful we are. Moving more weight in the same amount of time would define an increase in power. Similarly moving the same initial amount of weight in less time would also indicate higher power output. 

Analogies can be drawn between physical and mental power. He or she who steps up to a weight and fearlessly moves it through the range of motion of a given exercise may not be considered powerful at first. However if this practice is kept up year in and year out eventually the performance becomes impressive. The person who stays focused and committed to their goal of developing high level fitness most likely stays committed to developing the rest of their life to a high level.

When you decide to do something make it happen quickly. Don't doddle but put ideas into effect right away. Don't spend two weeks thinking it over and getting up the courage to get started. Just as in strength training you pick up the weight, do the work of moving it for a few reps, then set it down. You don't stand there holding it for ten minutes before you move. Train with an emphasis on leaning power and you should find ways to apply the same lessons to all ares of life. Rather than sitting at your desk web surfing you will get things done. Instead of daydreaming you'll make your dreams a reality. 

Signs of a Bad Trainer

Nobody’s perfect, but when it comes to your personal trainer you deserve the best of the best. It is easy for trainers to fall into patterns with bad habits, big or small, that detract from the quality of the session you are given, and therefore from your workout. Not only should your trainer walk their talk, but also they should strive for excellence in programming, time management, personal connection, and consistency.

Time management is a key factor in any aspect of life, be it professional or personal. Whether your sessions are a half hour or hour long, each session should start and end on time. A good trainer will always be there, prepared and ready for your workout before your arrival. In addition to being timely, you don’t want to work with a trainer who reschedules frequently, especially last minute, as it keeps you from being able to maintain the consistency in your workout routine.

Part of personal training is the personal aspect, but a personal trainer’s personal life is least important. Most important is the workout you as the client are getting. A bit of sharing can be caring but the training and your goals must remain the focus of the session.

A bad trainer is unable to adapt a workout or understand that everybody’s body is different and what program works for one person may not be the best route for another. Your trainer should be able to design a program just for you. In addition, factors like sleep, diet, weather, and more may impact your needs in a particular session compared to on a different day.

Finally, a trainer should never be on their phone during the hour you are in front of them. No matter who is calling or texting, period. When it comes to working with a trainer you are the focus and the star of that session.

- Written by Layla Meyer with input from Team ATOMIC

One Step Closer

You may be gung-ho about your fitness routine right now, but at some point, sooner or later, you are going to lose motivation. What then? How do you keep going and avoid the temptation of binging on peanut butter-stuffed pretzels and Netflix? Pausing your exercise program for lack of time, work stress, or lapse in motivation should never be an option, still it happens.  Cycles of stopping, and restarting a workout regimen predispose the weekend warrior to injury, weight gain, and mood swings. Rather than attempting to lose ten pounds, a better goal might be to search out the exercises that will continue to keep you excited, inspired, and motivated. People give up when they lose motivation or become bored, and their logical reasons for for hitting the gym seemingly disappear. Motivation comes from having a purpose. A proper training routine that you enjoy could give you that purpose.

It’s important to recognize the difference between training and exercise. Any exercise is good for you, but great training (the kind that stays with you for life) should be progressive, planned, and focused. Exercise can be anything you do to activate your body, and therein lies the trouble. The roads to exercise are infinite but not all of them will lead you to true fitness. In contrast, training is like climbing a mountain. It’s not glamorous but every day that you take a step, you are one step closer to your goal. If your goal is, “to exercise until your lose twenty pounds” you will either succeed or fail based on what your scale reads each morning.  By this approach most people fail repeatedly. 

Similarly, most people don’t give themselves a chance to succeed because they place the initial bar too high. Forget about losing twenty pounds, focus on lifestyle changes that can be maintained. It’s well documented that small achievable goals add up to big accomplishments over time. So set small goals, and then make a plan to reach each one. Keep in mind that a plan is an outline, not a rigid set of rules. You are training when you work the plan. If your plan doesn’t work, don’t give up. The good news is you learned something about what doesn’t work. Simply reevaluate with this new information and replan. Congrats, you are now one step closer!

ATOMIC Pillar: Training is Progressive, Planned and Focused

We all know we need exercise, but what type, how much and how often? At ATOMIC, our training is progressive, planned, and focused.  Weekend warriors frantically trying to make up for time lost behind a desk complain of injuries and fall short of their exercise goals.  In contrast, those who train correctly recover from injuries (or avoid them altogether), improve continually and achieve their goals. At ATF we teach universal exercise principles, supervise their application, and guide the practitioner to higher and higher levels of proficiency.  

To achieve excellence in fitness one must first clearly define realistic goals. This could be a specific body fat percentage, squatting your body weight, doing a handstand, acquiring a skill, or reaching some other specific metric.

With our goals defined, we then make a plan for getting there. The plan isn’t set in stone, rather it’s a rough sketch what you intend to do in order to arrive at your desired destination. Next comes the hard part.  You work the plan and take note of where it’s working and where you are falling short.  Where the plan works and you are making gains, continue on that path.  In areas where you are struggling, reevaluate and come up with a revised and improved plan. Repeat, reevaluate again and continue to adjust as necessary. 

Apply the above procedure in earnest and reap the rewards of health, strength, and longevity. Violate the above and be struck down by the “-itis”. What’s the -itis?  It’s a state or condition associated with damage, inflammation and disease.  The -itis strikes down the weekend warrior, those who continually stop and start their exercise program and those who perpetually over do it.  Correct training should build you up without grinding you down.  If the above seems contrary to your current approach to fitness now might be a great time to come up with a better plan.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
      - Chinese proverb

ATOMIC Pillar: Train Movements, Not Muscles

Whatever your reason for exercising, whether for health, body composition, or stress reduction, it is critical to train movements, not muscles. When we train movements, we naturally integrate the parts of the body into one whole unit. On the other hand, when when we think of the body as separate muscles or body segments, we instantaneously place limitations on our abilities.  At ATOMIC we don't do a "leg day" or "chest and back" day.  We snicker at the concept of training "abs, bis 'n tris".  Even the concept of doing "cardio" is a little strange to us - as if while running or swimming you are only working your heart and lungs.  In other words, train the correct movement and you will get the results and health benefits you desire.  

For example, the bench press primarily works the pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and triceps. That said, many folks get caught up trying to bench with only those three muscle groups. Sadly, knowing the fancy vocabulary for muscles in your chest, shoulders and arms won't make the bar move.  Additionally, in order to actually execute the movement of the bench press, you will need the grip strength of your hands, stable shoulders, a strong back, an engaged abdomen, and legs that are firmly rooted to the ground through your feet.  Watch someone perform a bench press with their whole body engaged and you will not only be witnessing a superior athlete you will undoubtedly see more weight moving. 

Workouts at ATOMIC Total Fitness are rooted in movement, athletics, and manual labor.  Rather than staring into the mirror doing bicep curls, at ATOMIC, we instead focus on full-body, large range of movement exercises.  Jumping, punching, squatting or swinging a kettlebell requires the synergy of proper hip hinging, as well as arm, leg, and core strength to be done properly. Additionally, after just a few reps your heart rate elevates, and with one exercise you are getting your "cardio", as well as working your legs, glutes, core, back, shoulders etcetera. 

If someone asks, "where should I feel this?", more often than not the answer is, "everywhere." And if they are just dying to know, "what muscle is this working?"  The reply comes back, "All of them."

ATOMIC Pillar: Don't Neglect the Other 23 Hours

One hour in the gym does not an athlete make.  To truly thrive, succeed, and become physically fit, we cannot neglect the other twenty-three hours of the day.  Yes, our workout time is special, and some people even consider it to be sacred.  The workout hour precipitates all of the physiological changes which occur after, and only after, leaving the gym.  If we don't nurture and support the body in the other hours after the workout, we may never fully realize its gains and benefits. 

If you train for one hour, every day of the week, you will be left with 161 hours to either unravel or enhance your fitness. Proper sleep and nutrition also are critical for impacting how you feel and perform.  If after a tough workout you nourish the body with nutritious, whole foods and get ample sleep, you can expect to see your performance almost continually improve.  Do this consistently for weeks and months, and your body composition will also transform.  On the other hand, you can’t out train bad nutrition or sleep habits. Everyday we see people who train like mad who then stay up too late and eat junk food.  They may be healthier for the exercise, but they are far from completely fit. Their bodies never change, and they struggle to reach their goals.

To take your training and overall fitness to the next level, our recommendation is to place a higher emphasis on the other twenty-three hours of the day.  Keep a log of your food intake and hours of sleep.  Adjust your habits to give you enough time to shop for healthy food and to get a good night's sleep. Certainly everyone deserves a cheat meal or cheat day, but in order to cheat, the rest of the days should be healthy. Exercise plus diet and sleep will give you the results you desire. 

 

ATOMIC Pillar: Many Paths to the Same Destination

In fitness and in life many paths lead to the same destination. The fitness destination we are all moving toward includes at minimum a muscular, balanced, athletic physique.  Add to the body a rested, focused mind and we're talking about a pretty optimal yet achievable state.  As we travel our individual paths we soon learn investing slowly over time yields better results than gambling with our health and engaging in extreme behavior.

If you talk to a champion athlete or master of physical movement you'll find similarities in how they describe what they do.  Dancers, martial artists, ball players and yogis all know the value of maintaining an upright spine and neutral posture.  It's easy to see that no matter what you do with your body or how you choose to move, there are fundamental underlying principles that guide your progress.  It’s these sound, universal principles we try to bring to each ATOMIC training session.  

So, weather you walk, run, play squash, ultimate frisbee or practice yoga we are all aiming for the same goal: a long health filled life, free of disease and injury.  If we can also surround ourselves with individuals whom we connect with and care about, life is good.  Live well by enjoying the journey and know you are on the right track.  Over time and with diligent study all paths converge.

ATOMIC Pillar: Long Term Progress is the Goal

Sometimes we need to take a few steps backward in order to make progress over the long term.  If you have bad form you simply can not expect to improve no matter how many reps you perform.  If you currently squat 185lbs with bad form you simply can not go to the gym and squat 190 or 200lbs well, if at all.  Our suggestion would be to dial back the weight to a point where you are able to easily complete the movement with excellent form.  You may want to practice with merely the bar or even just a pvc pipe or broom handle.  

Next increase the amount you lift systematically.  Keeping record of how much weight you lift and how many reps you perform gives you a safe and replicable method for addressing each subsequent workout.  If the 185lbs squatter cut the weight down to 90lbs and then added 5lbs a week for one year she would add 260lbs and be squatting 350lbs.  That's 165lbs more and a nearly 90% increase over the original max of 185lbs!

Rather than stroking your ego by attempting to lift weights you can’t handle, back off, regroup, reassess and shoot for progress measured by months and years as opposed to days and weeks.  Master each level before you progress and watch your fitness improve dramatically.

Training for the Traveler: Manila

The hardest place for me to gain traction has been Manila.  The gym is a glorified hotel gym. It is very clean and has a number of cardio machines.  Unfortunately it lacks some other key pieces - most notably a squat rack and barbells.

I decided to primarily use dumbbells and focus on unilateral movements, since they are underrepresented in my typical training.

 

 

 

 

 

My go-to session looks like this - 

Warm-up with 5 sets of 10 of Goblet Squats, RDLs, Pushups, and Batwing Rows. Performed in a circuit fashion at a comfortable pace.

Workout -
Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch - 5 to 8 reps for 5 sets. (5 reps w/ left arm, rest 1 minute, 5 reps w/ right arm, rest 1 minute, repeat).
Single Arm Dumbbell Clean and Press - performed in the same style as the Snatch.
Kroc Row - 3 sets of 15 to 25.

A very solid session hitting some under trained skills -  that only requires a few dumbbells and a little bit of space in the gym. 

Training for the Traveler

I've been traveling extensively since May and the hardest part is trying to build consistency in my training.

 Lethwei Fighters in Yangon.

Since May - I've been to the following countries (in order). Philippines, Vietnam, Philippines, U.S.A., Germany, Moldova, Austria, U.S.A, Canada, Philippines, Malaysia Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines. I'll finally be returning to the States for a few days before I turn back around for another week.   The amount of hours on a plane coupled with jet lag the following day does a number on my motivation and my mobility. 

The unforeseen challenge has been that almost every session is in a new & different gym.  When I do get motivated enough to put on shorts and head to the gym, the workouts have been aimless and less than satisfying.

My perfect gym has a squat rack, barbell & plates, a pull-up bar, loud music and like minded people.  No gym has come close to filling all of my prerequisites.   Admittedly, the lack of Gary and Adam during my sessions has also killed the quality of my workouts.

 

I needed to simplify my training plan. Instead of progressing my squats, presses and deadlifts, I've decided to take a more generalist approach to my fitness.  I've boiled down each day into trying to hit three goals.

1. Break a sweat - intentionally (It's very easy for me to unintentionally sweat in South East Asia).
2. Drink plenty of water. 
3. Stretch my hip flexors.  A simple progression of standing lunge, kneeling lunge and the couch stretch with a running timer of 1 min keeps my hips much happier. After the 6 minutes is over, it almost always leads into other mobility work that leaves me feeling much more refreshed

The simpler approach prevents the aimlessness and feeling of dissatisfaction that kills momentum.
------------------------------------

(In future installments, I will list some of the actual training sessions that I have done in the various countries.)

ATOMIC PILLAR: Best way to improve a system, eliminate the weaknesses.

     When it comes to improving your fitness, the best way is to eliminate the weakness in the overall system. Assess and Address.  Determine your weakest link and then come up with a plan to eliminate that weakness.  Once you've eliminated that issue, take a look at the whole system again to determine your next area of focus.
    As the neglected / undertrained areas improve (and often they improve quickly) the whole system gets better.  The hardest part is simply getting started.  We fear what we don’t know and as a result it’s easier to do what’s familiar.   We understand it may be difficult to confront different concepts or styles of training.  You may be a runner but never strength train.  You may squat a ton but can't do a wall extension.  You may run, lift and stretch but never balance on one foot or hand.   At ATOMIC we want to not only work your strengths we want to address those areas where you are weakest - so you improve as quickly as possible

ATOMIC Pillar: Effort and Consistency

[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7W_65-sFDM&w=854&h=480]

At ATOMIC we believe the lessons learned in the gym carry over into life as well.  In order to improve and progress in fitness and in life one must come to master two primary factors: Effort and Consistency

Effort requires mental and physical work.  Effort is the desire to improve, to exert oneself, to sweat, to feel the body work and fatigue.  Notable accomplishments do not come easily.  You will need to put in effort in order to avoid distractions keeping you from the gym, to complete that last rep, and to choose asparagus over mashed potatoes.  Effort applied continually, over and over and over in the face of obstacles leads to Consistency.
  
Consistency means making up your mind to do something and then doing it.  Make a commitment, stick to it and then follow through to completion.  If and when a barrier or challenge or issue arrives in your path do not allow it to throw you off.  Attempt to address the obstacle logically and accurately.  Make adjustments, continue forward with vigor allthewhile continually assessing and fine tuning the process.   If you have to adjust course remain in alignment with your intended direction. 

It’s fundamental, Effort applied with Consistency leads to accomplishment.

ATOMIC Pillar: Deal with issues, don’t avoid them.

Issues: the things in the gym and in life you have been avoiding.  They are your stumbling blocks, frustrations and nagging disappointments - the elephant in the room.  If you have sore knees, ache when you move, tight shoulders or painful wrists, stop ignoring the signals and confront the issue head on.  All issues do not have to contain physical pain, they could be mental or emotional.  Often diet is the issue.  Skipping breakfast, the habitual a bag of chips, diet soda every day with lunch or the all-out weekend binging could prevent you from achieving your goals even if you currently exercise regularly.  At ATOMIC Total Fitness we have found, it's better to address and handle our issues before we attempt to move forward.  It may feel like a waste of time or backtracking but within our issues hides our ultimate potential. 

From now on, if you encounter an issue, obstacle or problem preventing you from achieving your goals, do not avoid it.  The source of pain can be found and handled. If you struggle with your diet, do your homework and write a food journal.  Don’t place the thing that needs the most attention on the back burner. You have the greatest amount to improve in the neglected categories.  You are as strong as your weakest link.  Fixing issues puts one back on the track to success.

Atomic Pillar: Compound Movements are primary

Compound Movements are Primary

Good training prioritizes compound movements. Compound movements are the exercises that involve multiple joints of the body and take the load through a long range of motion. Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, Lunges, Pushups, Pullups, etc...the classics. 

We still love to sprinkle in single joint exercises to help break a training plateau, recover from an injury, or address a weakness.  There are no BAD exercises, just bad execution or bad programming.  Programming movements is a lot like selecting the right tool.  The right exercise will allow you to reach your objective much sooner.  Emphasizing assistance exercises is like selecting the wrong tool for the job.  You may eventually get to the desired outcome, but the work will be much more frustrating and take much longer.

By focusing on compound movements, you achieve the most benefit as fast as possible. You will come to love compound movements because they give the biggest metabolic hit, highest neuroendocrine response and yield a balanced physique.

At ATOMIC, we program the most effective movements for your objective.  

Client Spotlight: Amrit

What is your purpose with regards to training?  Why do YOU do it?

I enjoy challenges, I like to work out with a tangible goal in mind.  Running a half marathon, the Spartan Sprint, the Squat Challenge.  I like having something to work towards, not just getting on a treadmills and going...  I enjoy training at ATF because they know me and my personality.  They help me train and work towards each new challenge, pushing me to the next level.  I am known for always trying new Gilt coupons because I like trying new interesting and challenging workouts, but they usually all disappoint.  The benefits of looking and feeling better are a bonus but I love the passion and drive these guys give me when I come to train.  There is nothing I can't do here.

What helps you to accomplish your goals?

The sweet smell of success :) but the environment of where I workout is important.  I have been with the group at Atomic for over two years, I remember when it was just Adam and Gary.  Now, two years later I still get the sample level of support and attention to my workouts even though they have more trainers and are hugely successful.  The team at Atomic know me well, very well.  They know what motivates me and keeps me working toward the next step.  They know what my physical and mental limits are and how are to push me.  I love how I feel after each workout...I can take of the world (of course, I will one day!) 

What advice would you give to someone new to training?

Trust these guys!  You have to want it enough and be willing to work hard for it.  But with their help, you will get to your goal.  Just don't expect this to be a magic pill...it is magic but with hard work.  I look forward to my sessions at Atomic and the week isn't right if I haven't gone in to shoot the shit with the guys and get an amazing workout in.  It's my own personal physical and mental therapy sessions.

Fitness Lessons we've learned from Game of Thrones

 

Lessons from Game of Thrones

To celebrate our unofficial GoT week at Atomic, here are some fitness lessons that we've learned from watching. 

Grenn

It doesn't matter where you start.

First abandoned as a toddler, so low born that he doesn't even have a surname.  Then he  became a criminal, sentenced to serve on the Wall. Grenn becomes the most important person in the realm. Without Grenn, the Wall is lost, the entire population of Westeros is wiped from existence.

There was a giant underneath the wall that night and he was 5'10" tall. 

"One of our giants went into your tunnel and never came out again." - Mance Rayder in disbelief 

"He's dead." - Jon Snow says, knowing something

"He was their king. Last of a bloodline that stretches back before the first men."

"Grenn came from a farm." 

Don't let the gym scare you. We were all beginners once.


Samwell Tarley

You can't out train bad nutrition.

   We love Sam (and anyone who fits Ned's definition of bravery) and appreciates many of his very admirable traits but physique is not one of them.  Even after some serious combat training and endless miles of walking, Sam hasn't made any significant changes to his body composition.


The Mountain

Strength is key.

   Being the go-to champion for Cersei and Tywin for any Trial by Combat is a demanding job.  When he is outmatched by Oberyn's unconventional style, the only thing that saved him was his high levels of strength. 


Bronn of the Blackwater

But don't neglect movement.

   Bogged down by heavy armor, Bronn's opponent in the Eyrie was no match for his ability to move. Exhausted and immobile after chasing the agile Bronn around during the Trial, Bronn easily killed him and sent him out of the Moon Door.


Gendry

Rowing is hard.

   Gendry pushes off into the Blackwater Bay and hasn't been seen since. If you are looking for a challenge, get on the C2. 


Bran Stark

Too many plyometrics can be dangerous.

Too soon?


Jamie Lannister

Don't let an injury slow you down.

   Arguably the greatest living swordsman having his sword hand cut off, could have derailed Jamie. Thanks to his fortitude and Brienne's influence, he is better off than when we met him.


The Hound

Eat adequate amounts of protein.

"Think I'll have two chickens." 


Oberyn Martell (and the rest of Dorne)

Women aren't 2nd class citizens.

   Unlike the rest of Westeros, Dorne has equal rights for women, including succession of their throne.   In the gym,  women can erode their own confidence and miss out on huge fitness potential. At Atomic, we train as humans, not females and males. 


Tyrion Lannister

Don't let your limitations be an excuse.

Acknowledge your limitations head on, like the Halfman, deal with them accordingly and keep moving towards your goals.

 "Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."  - Tyrion to Jon Snow


Barristan Selmy* and Ser Pounce

No real fitness lesson.

   They are just the best two characters on the show and we strive to be more like them.

*In the unlikely chance Barristan the Bold turns out to not be the most honorable and most badass person on both continents, we retract our claim.


Atomic Pillar: What we do in the gym, should enhance our lives outside of the gym

What we do in the gym should enhance our lives outside the gym.

  

     In the beginning (back in the 70’s), going to the gym was an end unto itself.  A little time has passed and gym training has evolved to become more of a means for supporting an athletic lifestyle.  In essence we train so we can enjoy life and participate more in our favorite activities. 

     One hour in the gym translates to 23 more productive hours every day.  When your body is fit and functioning simply existing becomes more pleasurable.  Your movements become smoother and pain free.  The quality of your sleep markedly improves.  Training boosts your energy and the need for sugar and caffeine to fuel your day disappears.  You’re capable of doing more because the way in which you live no longer takes a toll on how you feel. 

    As a direct result, at ATOMIC we encourage you to engage in more recreational activities.  Training here should enable you to participate in the sports you enjoy more frequently and at a higher level.  Rather than feeling worn out your frequency of jogging in the park, cycling outdoors, hiking, paddle boarding, golfing, climbing or trying something new should increase.

    Why not become the strongest, most productive, efficient, fit and agile version of yourself that you can possibly be.   Whatever you do, do it better because you are trained.